January 26, 2006

Brits to increase forces in Afghanistan

The United Kingdom continues to fight the good fight: Britain Boosting Afghan Troop Levels.

LONDON - Britain will send at least another 4,000 troops — four times its current deployment — to Afghanistan in coming months as a NATO mission expands into a dangerous region rife with Taliban and al-Qaida insurgents, the government said Thursday.

Britain now has about 1,000 troops in Afghanistan. That would peak at about 5,700 but drop to less than 4,700 after engineers complete building a base for troops by July, Defense Secretary John Reid said.

He told the House of Commons that the mission in southern Afghanistan was dangerous, and warlords and drug trafficking gangs were active in the region.

"Those risks are as nothing compared to the dangers to our country and our people of allowing Afghanistan to fall back into the hands of the Taliban and the terrorists," he said.

The deployment would not lead to a withdrawal of troops in Iraq, where Britain has an 8,500-strong force, he said.

The Afghanistan deployment comes as NATO expands its peacekeeping mission there from 9,000 to about 16,000 troops. The alliance will be responsible for security in about three-quarters of the country, while the separate U.S.-led combat force hunts down Taliban insurgents.

In May, Britain takes control of NATO's International Security Assistance Force based in the capital, Kabul. As the alliance pushes south, it will command a forward support base in the southern city of Kandahar.

Britain's defense ministry said some 3,300 troops would form a reconstruction team in Helmand — a volatile southern province and an important center of Afghan opium production.

"We are working to ensure we provide the Afghans with a seamless package of democratic, political and military assistance in Helmand," Reid said.

The military will be doing "all that is necessary to ensure that international terrorism never again has a base in Afghanistan," he said.

Thank you, Great Britain, our loyal and steadfast friends.

Posted by Kyer at January 26, 2006 12:35 PM | TrackBack